The CCO’s off-season look at the Cubs’ farm system continues today with the top 31 prospects in the Cubs organization according to Baseball America.
Baseball America’s 2011 Prospect Handbook was recently released with the Nationals’ Bryce Harper on the cover. BA was very complimentary of the Cubs’ system before the trade with the Rays last month … and Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt cracked their editor’s top 50 lists.
The Cubs system made it into the top 10 before the trade (ranked number 8), but slipped back to the bottom half of the league after the deal with Tampa that sent four of the top 20 prospects in the system to the Rays for Matt Garza. Baseball America is supposed to update their 2011 organizational rankings next month.
Here’s how Baseball America ranked the top 31 prospects in the Cubs system before January 8. 1. Chris Archer. RHP*
2. Brett Jackson, OF
3. Trey McNutt, RHP
4. Hak-Ju Lee, SS*
5. Josh Vitters, 3B
6. Chris Carpenter, RHP
7. Matt Szczur, OF
8. Hayden Simpson, RHP
9. Rafael Dolis, RHP
10 Brandon Guyer, OF*
11. Alberto Cabrera, RHP
12. Darwin Barney, SS/2B
13. D.J. LeMahieu, IF
14. Scott Maine, LHP
15. Jay Jackson, RHP
16. Robinson Chirinos, C*
17. Welington Castillo, C
18. Marcos Mateo, RHP
19. Robinson Lopez, RHP
20. Kyle Smit, RHP
21. Logan Watkins, 2B/OF/SS
22. Ryan Flaherty, 2B/3B
23. Reggie Golden, OF
24. Ben Wells, RHP
25. Aaron Kurcz, RHP
26. Brooks Raley, LHP
27. Junior Lake, SS/3B
28. Jae-Hoon Ha, OF
29. Esmailin Caridad, RHP
30. Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP
31. Matt Cerda, 2B/3B
*Traded to the Tampa Bay Rays along with Sam Fuld on January 8 for Matt Garza, Fernando Perez and Zachary Rosscup
26 of the Cubs top 31 prospects are (were) homegrown talent and five came to the Cubs via the trade route.
Baseball America thinks Darwin Barney could end up being the top rookie in the Cubs system in 2011. “The best middle-infield defender in the organization keeps overachieving and could steal playing time at second base.”
As for a breakout prospect in the Cubs’ system, BA feels Aaron Kurcz “won’t remain an anonymous 10th round pick for much longer.” The right-hander throws a 91-95 MPH fastball with promising secondary pitches. The 20-year old (August 8, 1990) was the Cubs 10th round pick last June and put together a 2-1 record in 26 games, all in relief, for the Mesa Cubs and Boise Hawks last year. Kurcz posted 9 saves, a 1.98 ERA and struck out 48 batters in 27 innings (11 walks, 15 hits and a 0.95 WHIP).
Matt Cerda could be the sleeper in the Cubs’ system. BA ranked Cerda the 31st best prospect in the organization. According to Baseball America, “He has unusual feel for hitting and strike-zone control for someone so young.” Cerda turns 21 on June 20.
Cubs Prospects in the Top 50
The editors of Baseball America publish their individual lists of the top 50 minor league prospects in the game. Chris Archer ranked in the 30s in all three lists.
Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt made Jim Callis’ top 50 prospects list. Callis ranked Jackson number 37 and McNutt number 45.
Will Lingo ranked Brett Jackson as the 41st best prospect in the game … and John Manuel did the same.
As for the players acquired from the Washington Nationals for Tom Gorzelanny (outfielder Michael Burgess, lefty Graham Hicks and right-hander A.J. Morris) two of the three made it on the Nationals’ top 30 prospects list.
Michael Burgess was ranked the 19th best prospect in the Nats system and right-hander A.J. Morris checked in at number 18.
The Cubs system took a hit with the trade for Matt Garza but there is still a lot of depth in the organization. The Cubs have several prospects that project as big league ballplayers … now they just have to prove it on the field.
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